Fish: Marc McHenry, US Forest Service and Pat Crain, Olympic National Park
Marc: Our work has included forest thinning, prioritizing fish blocking culverts… looking at resident reaches of the watershed. 90 percent of the reaches have a team of two that are going across the forest, primarily Skokomish.
Basically the fish species we’re running into are rainbow trout, sculpin and in a few streams, coho.
Challenges include conducting survey in low flow conditions. And we’re not just looking for last fish but last habitat – looking at more gradient barriers, size of stream, those of types of changes within the channel.
This is kind of a work in progress. We’re always trying to sharpen our understanding of where fish are and I see it going on in the future. We’re always going to be getting a sense of where the fish are in all of our watersheds.
We just saw last week our first Elwha chinook above Glines canyon dam. it’s exciting that with the work you guys are doing we could see the first coho above the Cushman dams.
I think it’s something important to think about the compare and contrasts between the Elwha and Cushman projects and the monitoring efforts.
The Cushman is one of the best understood projects in the park. It has the most complete fisheries data in ONP, also the most visited area in the park, with bull trout as the most sensitive fish species. With Tacoma power’s help, we’re doing some habitat assessments which is not done often in pristine settings. We’ve got some information from a system that hasn’t been manipulated.
Our fish compositions studies are pretty simple in concept – divers get in river, side by side, drifting to look for adult fish but also note observations of juvenile fish. We can also use these surveys for adipose, floy tags any other visual markings of fish.
One observation is the timing of bull trout – moving in early. not sure what that’s from – water temperature or the way the reservoir is being managed. what does that mean to us? do we need to change our fishing regs? We just have a non-retention on bull trout – need to change that during high visitor periods?
Redd Surveys – early to say much but spawning starting in october 20 and new redds are seen through December. Very similar to coho. GPSing all the redds and surveying all the way to four steam. Saw one redd above staircase rapids in 2013.
Final work – habitat surveys using Timber/Fish/Wildlife protocols. Good methods but possibly not capture the full story. The other thing we did find – the Staircase Rapids area is a potential barrier depending on flow, jumping ability and time of year. Fish are really going to have to tell us if these are barriers or not.